QSFer Christian Baines has a new MM comedic horror book out: My Cat’s Guide to Online Dating.
A hook-up gone bad can be purrder.
Fresh from a breakup, deeply closeted freshman Zach jumps at the chance to housesit his family home and enjoy a long, horny summer free of both his ex and his religious parents. But when an old enemy turned hot hook-up falls to his death, Zach turns to the only true friend he’s ever known—his cat, Grace Jones.
With the dead man’s phone and a knack for texting, she promises Zach help, for a price that will satisfy both their appetites. Does it matter if Grace Jones’ powers draw on something far more ancient and sinister than a cell phone?
“Get laid, Zachary. Get laid.”
Each new hook-up brings Zach darkly humorous discoveries about life, love, sex, and his own desires. But Zach knows it’s only a matter of time before someone discovers his secret. Can he rely on his feline protector, or is he trapped in a hungry devil’s bargain?
Zach shook his head as he got up and pulled on his underwear. “Don’t you need to be going?”
“Yeah, yeah.” The jock rolled off the bed, stretching his arms above his head and showing off his body. It might have popped Zach a fresh boner if the guy had been anyone else. “So… we’re cool, right?”
“Do you care?”
Conway pulled on his jock and shorts, his predatory smile back in place. “You turned out okay, man. You jog? Hit the trails? Great excuse when you need to ‘get out’ if you know what I’m saying.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“You went east, right? Boston or something?”
“No.” Zach gritted his teeth. “Gold star gay. Well, platinum, I guess. My Mom had a C section.”
Jesus, shut up already!
“I don’t know what that means.”
“No, moron! Platinum gay.”
“It means never passed through—”
“Jesus, I wasn’t asking!”
Great. Now if this beautiful monster turned explosive-divorce-in-waiting would just get out of his house, never to be seen or heard from again, they’d be… Gold? He looked over at the two shining golden dots that had appeared at the center of a black furry mass on Conway’s tank top. The skinny feline body of Grace Jones stretched out with a yawn, clawing at the top before rubbing her face in it.
“Hey, get off that!” Conway barked, clapping at the animal. “Go on, get! Fuckin’ cat!”
“Hey, that’s my cat.” Zach watched Grace Jones scamper out of sight.
“Whatever.” The jock picked up his tank top and turned it over, inspecting it for cat hair. “Shit. Shit, shit, shit!”
“Look at this! Stupid animal.” Conway shoved the top under Zach’s nose.
Zach squinted to see two or three black hairs on Conway’s black tank top. “Looks okay to me.”
“Man, this isn’t funny. My wife’s allergic. You know I’ve got to be totally discreet?”
“You said that, a bunch of times.” Zach at last found a single white hair that might have served as forensic evidence of his cat. “I’ll see if I’ve got a lint brush, okay?”
“Yeah, you’d better. I don’t need trouble, from Cheryl or anybody else. You got that?”
“Cheryl Conway now.”
Un-fucking… No, it was totally believable. Cheryl Findlay had been Fairview Baptist’s Medusa for Christ, ever ready to turn accused non-believers into social stone with a pious shriek. Of course she’d take a ring from a hypocritical son of a bitch… okay, fine, a rich, hot, handsome, hypocritical son of a bitch like Conway.
“What do you care?”
“I… I don’t,” he answered, following Conway out to the stairs.
“Hey,” Conway frowned in a way Zach didn’t like one bit. “You ain’t gonna tell her, are you?”
“What? Why would I tell her? We’re not friends. I never even liked her! I mean… Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that. I know she’s your wife but—”
“Because that’d be kind of fucked up, man. Look, I was an asshole to you, like, a million years ago. I’m a big enough guy to admit that, but if this is some kind of twisted, revenge hook-up, blackmailing shit—”
“Woah! What the hell are you talking about? You wanted cock, I wanted to fuck. That’s all. I didn’t even see your face until you turned up.”
“Yeah? Well maybe that was a good thing. Not that you needed my face to recognize me, Fat Sack.”
Zach clenched his fists again. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Conway stretched his arms out over the empty staircase, making a show of his chest. “What? You think I never noticed? Come on, man. Toby was okay, but I knew what you really wanted. You never missed your chance to sneak a peek. I felt sorry for your dumb homo ass.”
That did it. The last pangs of guilt or uncertainty exploded as Zach fired up. “You know, for a second there, I almost thought we were maybe putting some of this shit behind us, but you’re as much of an asshole as you ever were. Now get the fuck out of my house!”
“Oh, I’m the asshole now? I’m the asshole? You get me over here, just so you can have the revenge fuck you’ve been dreaming of since high school? Now, you think you’re gonna tell Cheryl and anyone else you can? Well, I got news for you, fag—Hey! What the…”
Zach ducked out of reach as Conway lunged for him. He saw the man trip and spin, trying to find the furry interloper that had dived between his legs. By the third spin, there was no regaining balance. Conway’s body was in freefall, the mouth that moments before had hurled abuse now mewled a desperate plea for impossible intervention. The terror in the man’s eyes registered just a fraction of a second too late as Zach’s fingertips brushed Conway’s. The man fell backwards, his feet kicking against empty air, powerful arms flapping with as much futility, until all 190 pounds of Conway landed hard on one shoulder.
Whether it was Conway’s size, weight, or just the crushing disappointment that people who fell down stairs did not do so in neat, rolling, Screen Actors Guild-approved heaps like they did in movies, Zach couldn’t say. Their necks, it seemed, did make that crunching noise, which the loud thud of Conway’s skull hitting the wooden floor had failed to disguise.
Then, all was silent.
Zach stood frozen, unable to blink or move, his hand clapped around the railing where Conway had tried to latch hold. Not dead. He couldn’t be dead. That snapping sound could just as easily of been the guy’s wrist or ankle, couldn’t it?
Christian Baines is an awkward nerd turned slightly less awkward author of weird and dark fiction. His work includes the gay paranormal series The Arcadia Trust, novella Skin, and Puppet Boy, a finalist for the 2016 Saints and Sinners Emerging Writer Award. Born in Australia, he now travels the world whenever possible, living, writing, and shivering in Toronto, Canada on the occasions he can’t find his passport.